The following Personal Injury guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
The Animals Act 1971 is referred to as AA 1971.
Most cases involving animals straying onto the highway will be decided under the law of negligence. However, some cases have succeeded under AA 1971.
There is a duty on farmers who graze cattle in a field next to a road to take all reasonable precautions to prevent their escape in order to prevent a danger to road users.
The ordinary principles of negligence apply to this duty. In deciding what precautions are reasonable the court will weigh the risk of an accident and its likely severity against the cost of preventing that risk from happening. This will be decided on a case by case basis.
There is a defence where the animals have strayed from certain types of unfenced land. Where the animals came from common land, a town or a village green or land situated in an area where fencing is not customary (for example Dartmoor), there is no liability provided that the owner had a right to place the animals there. Around 3% of England's land area is common land so this situation does arise from time to time.
Local authorities are obliged to keep a register of common land and greens, although some areas are exempt from registration. There is also an obligation on owners to
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